Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt – the story of a man wrongly accused of sexual abuse by a confused and emotionally needy young child – has to be one of the most harrowing, most difficult to watch films I have seen. I sat there, in the front row of the Curzon Soho, snatching glances at my watch, willing it all to be over, even as I was glued what was enfolding on the screen.
Vinterberg captures perfectly, it seems to me, the slow-building near-hysteria of a small community’s fears, the inexorable way in which a single accusation can snowball, taking – sometimes – all common sense, all common decency with it. The performances are uniformly excellent, Mads Mikkelsen, in the lead role of the accused nursery school worker, capturing perfectly the anguish and bewilderment of a man struggling maintain his integrity, his relationship with his teenage son, his long-time friends, amongst what he can only see as the wrongful absurdity engulfing him.
Along with Haneke’s Amour, this must be one of my films of the year. Any year.